Queensbridge Simply Wasn’t Big Enough For Both Of Them.
NaS made his debut on Main Source’s “Live At The BBQ” in 1991, from that moment he had a following. He became the redemption for Queensbridge, after the hood was embarrassed by Boogie Down Productions with “The Bridge Is Over”. His debut, ‘Illmatic’ would drop 3 years later and change hip hop forever.
Queensbridge had always been a hotbed for MCs since the 80s, whether it was MC Shan, Roxanne Shante or Craig G. The legendary Juice Crew made QB their home, even for the members that weren’t from the hood. Their history of hip hop dates back to the early 80s, to the point where NaS and Jungle (his younger brother) thought hip hop was created in QB and not the South Bronx. The culture was that rich, you could look out the window, see kids breakdancing on cardboard boxes and others plugging sound systems into the light poles to start the park jam.
At the time NaS first got on there was another Queensbridge resident who was also making a name for himself, not only on the mic but in the streets. At the time, he went by the name MC Core, and was building a sizable buzz in the hood. For those not familiar with Queensbridge, it’s the biggest housing project in the country, 96 towers, broke down into many different sections and factions. So you can be from the 40th side of Vernon Blvd and be the man, but on the 41st side you could be a virtual nobody.
Before he could establish himself as a rapper, Cormega’s life on the streets caught up to him, and he was sent to prison for a sentence of 5 to 15 years. If you listen to “One Love”, from NaS’ debut, you can even hear the shout out in the 1stverse “Whaddup with Cormega, did you see’em are yall together?”. So naturally when Cormega returned from prison in the mid 90s, NaS was one of the biggest rappers in the game, and was forming a super group along with Foxy Brown, & AZ. NaS was aware of Mega’s talent, and he ultimately wanted to help his fellow QB brethren out.
After becoming an official member of The Firm outfit, Mega was featured on NaS’ sophomore album, ‘It Was Written’ on the crew song, “Affirmative Action”. The album would go on to be #1 in the country for a month, and go multi platinum. The anticipation for a Firm album was at an all time high. Simply based on his association with NaS, Mega was signed to Def Jam Records, who at the time was in a stage of rebuilding after the rise of Death Row, Bad Boy and the East vs. West beef. After securing his deal, the next thing in order was to prepare for The Firm debut album.
That’s when things began to get complicated, as NaS was riding the stardom of his crossover hit album he was taking more and more advice from his new manager, Steve Stoute. The members of The Firm were to be solely managed by Stoute, and were to sign a production deal with the Track Masters, Mega had his reservations about such a deal. His hesitation would end up costing him his spot in the super group, amongst other things. There was a photo shoot for a magazine cover, and that was the moment Mega knew he was officially no longer a part of the group. When the magazine hit newsstands he had been replaced by fellow QB resident, and Track Masters artist, Nature.
This marks the beginning of an almost decade long ‘off and on’ feud with NaS. After the photo shoot, Nature was talking trash about Mega during a radio interview, word got back to Mega who’s first instinct was to handle it the old fashioned way, a fist fight. No one informed Nature that Cormega was a trained boxer, but he most definitely found out in the form of a knockout punch. After the fight, they shook hands and “squashed” whatever issues they had previously had.
But as usual with hip hop beefs, nothings really over until there’s a couple records back and forth.
Cormega drew 1st blood
With his track “Never Personal”(Fuck NaS & Nature), Mega came out swinging, taking shots at NaS, & Nature’s street credibility. Their lack of funds from the industry, while it was mainly questioning why NaS would send Nature to diss him. There aren’t really to many bard sent in NaS’ direction, as he says in the hook, “Nature you finished, yo NaS you next”
It’s more of a warning shot than anything, its just giving NaS & Nature a taste of what can be done if subliminals continue to be sent in Mega’s direction. The fact that he lets Mike Delorean, who sounds about 14 years old on the track takes some of the venom out of the actual record, and I think it was also done purposely, as Mega states on the track.
There was no true rebuttal for the record though. NaS sends subliminals on his 3rd album ‘I Am..’, most notably on the albums 2nd single “Hate Me Now” & the album cut, “Big Things” where he questions what has Cormega done with his clique that he was building after defecting from The Firm, but he is not mentioned by name in any of the songs.
Years would go by, and it seemed that the beef had rolled over, Mega even made an appearance on NaS’ Ill Will Records, compilation album, ‘QB’s Finest”. While it’s said that he reluctantly obliged to the suggestion of including Mega, things seemed at peace when the video for “Bridge 2000” was shot. It was the 1st time Mega and Nature appeared on a track together, but it was the video shoot that would reignite the beef between the one time friends, NaS and Mega. There was some type of misunderstanding about rented jewelry on the set of the video, which resulted in words being exchanged between NaS and Mega.
The issue with NaS is said to have played a role in Cormega’s Def Jam debut being shelved for years. While the album was complete in 1998, and set to come out in that summer it was promoted in hip hop publications, but a date was never set and it remained in limbo for years. Cormega would eventually be released from his contract, and head over to indie, Landspeed for his solo debut, ‘The Realness’.
Much like ‘I Am..’, ‘The Realness’ is full of lines that seem to de directed at NaS, without mentioning him by name. Their rift was well known, and during the course of time between his Def Jam days and leaving the label, Mega would go on to release many underground tracks aimed at NaS.
Mega was not the only one who dropped an album in 2001, he also wasn’t the only one taking shots at NaS. At the time, NaS and Jay-Z were in a war of words, and NaS’ career was on the brink. His album ‘Stillmatic’, was appropriately titled, it reestablished him as a force in hip hop, and a ferocious competitor in the sport of battle rap. After handling Jigga on the track “Ether”, NaS would take aim at a former foe on the track “Destroy & Rebuild”.
The Rebuttal –
Holding absolutely no punches, NaS goes right at the neck of Cormega in the tracks first verse, he addresses all of the many disses that Mega had dropped in the years prior, and seemed genuinely annoyed with the fact that he was always on the mind of his one time friend. Addressing him by his born name, Corey for most of the 1st verse, he turns the tables and questions Mega’s street credibility, claims he was dropped from Def Jam because he simply wasn’t talented.
It’s not just Cormega who gets the business on this track, he also goes in on Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Nature. While his lyrical thrashing of Prodigy, he claims is out of love, he has none to offer Cormega. The entire song is performed in a pretty lackluster Slick Rick type voice, while it does make it a little more entertaining, I don’t think Slick Rick was impressed one bit, but then again I could be wrong.
As before, Mega would go on and release a few different tracks addressing NaS, none of which matched the steam of his initial diss track or the rebuttal by NaS, so Mega decided to take a different approach.
Round – 2
Cormega would go on to drop his sophomore album a year after his debut, he was not an independent artist running his own label, Legal Hustle Records, and his approach to his rift with NaS took a more nature approach. On “Love In Love Out”, he takes it back to the beginning of their business relationship, starting with him returning from prison and NaS promising to put him on. He discusses the ups and downs of the industry and what it did to their friendship
While it’s not much of a diss track, it’s an honest account of what went wrong in their business and personal relationship from Mega’s side. He sounds genuinely hurt on the track, and while he claims their “enemies” on the track, the tone says otherwise. He’s more or less asking why things had to go down like that.
NaS never directly addressed Mega after that point, and their rift more or less died down. By this time they were both in their late 20s, with children and presumably had better things to worry about then failed friendships. The future would see NaS bring Cormega out to perform “Affirmative Action”, to a warm welcome from the crowd. While there has been talks of reassembling ‘The Firm’ with both Cormega & Nature, nothing concrete has come out of it.
NaS and Cormega have never worked together on an official song, but both sides have said there is no longer bad blood, and if they do run into each other things are cordial.
The rift between the onetime friends was strictly business, but due to the fact that business was handled so poorly and the lack of communication ir caused it to turn personal. Steve Stoute is more or less the reason NaS and Cormega fell out. Mega felt like NaS should have been loyal to him instead of his manager, but at that time Mega was very new to the business and didn’t understand that business always comes first. While he made a lot more music addressing the beef with NaS, none of them garnered the attention of his initial diss track. And while NaS has thrown several jabs in the direction of Mega, he only mentioned him by name on “Destroy & Rebuild”